Mandatory Margins for Moms

Margins. Are you old enough to remember having to set them on a typewriter, or later, on a word processing program on a computer? I am. I’m not that old, in my opinion, but I am a product of the generation of AOL Instant Messaging (we called it “IM-ing”) and Nokia phones. But that’s all beside the point.

The idea of margins, back in the day, was that if you didn’t set them, your text might just run right off the page. There would be no structure to your typing, no break from the continuing thoughts. I remember the “ding!” of my Brother electronic typewriter as I pecked away in 9th grade typing class.

My freshman year English instructor introduced strict margin requirements. Errors cost precious points. In boxes of old papers and photographs, I find research papers and projects with straight-as-a-ruler margins. Nowadays, margins are practically automatic. But as a mom, they are anything but.

I have learned that margins are precious these days. You know what I mean–the time “in between” life and school and church and sports and birthdays. Saturday afternoons with nothing to do except play a card game or go to the park with the kids–or warm evenings in the spring when the days are longer and everyone wants to go for a walk around the neighborhood–those are the margins that are not automatic.

When I was a kid, I imagined that life would NEVER speed up for me. I felt like I was a professional “wait-er,” constantly waiting on my dad to finish work, or my mom to check everything off her grocery list. Marginal times, like when we watched The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis or the time we went on a family vacation to Washington, D.C., felt natural and spontaneous. Now that I’m a parent, I understand that those margins were set. Other (perhaps good) things were set aside to give priority to those precious times.

Life would just run like text off the page if we didn’t set margins in our lives.

Becki Rogers

Life would just run like text off the page if we didn’t set margins in our lives. This is especially true for me in spending time with God. If I don’t set and protect the margins in my life, responsibilities and demands will plow through like a run-on sentence. It is also true in reference to quality time with my children. I have enjoyed seasons with “too much” margin–if there is such a thing–with my children. Now, however, I find myself in a season that forces me to protect that time with fierce abandon. All else must wait; family time MUST be preserved.

What margins do you have set in your life? How do you protect them? Do you find it to be a struggle? I’d love to know your thoughts and suggestions as to how we as moms can preserve time in our busy lives!

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